a friendly service covering audit, tax, accounts, self assessment,

VAT & payroll please contact us.

New clients - easy three step process

Call us today on 01332 202660

We  offer cloud-based accounting solutions.  Using good technology saves time.  With the power of cloud accounting in your hands, you can access accurate real-time data on the go, accept instant payments and even automate repetitive tasks like invoicing. Fast, easy, touch-of-a-button software can make a real difference to the way you run your business.

Adrian Mooy & Co - Accountants Derby

Call us today on 01332 202660

... a digital firm using the best tech to help our clients

like yours grow and be more profitable.

Welcome to Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd

We offer a personal service and welcome new clients.

We are a firm of Chartered Certified Accountants

and tax advisors in Derby helping businesses

From start-up to exit & everything in-between.

Whether you’re struggling with company formation,

KASHFLOW

+

SNAP

IRIS

OPENSPACE

SAGE

MAKING

TAX

DIGITAL

XERO

+

RECEIPT

BANK

CHASER

FUTRLI

FLUIDLY

GO

CARDLESS

annual accounts and taxation, payroll or VAT you can

count on us at every step of your business’s journey.  For

QBO

If you are looking for a Derby accountant then please contact us.

○  Quality checked firm - awarded the ACCA Quality Checked mark

○  Tax solutions to help you keep your income

○  Cloud-based accounting solutions

○  Transparent affordable pricing

Accountants Derby
Accountants Derby

TAX BRIEFING

SEPT 2019

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Services

We offer a range of high quality services

Web-based accounting

Xero is a web-based accounting system designed with the needs of small business owners in mind.

 

It can automatically connect to your bank and download your bank statements. From there it’s simple to tell Xero what transactions relate to and once told it remembers and looks out for similar transactions. This saves time and makes keeping your accounts up to date easier.

 

Log in from any web browser. As your accountant we can log in and provide help.

 

Making Tax Digital - VAT

Our process for delivering tax accounting vat self assessment and payroll services

 

Arrow indicating direction of process flow

Our Process

Understand your needs

Firstly we listen and gain an understanding of your business and what you are aiming to achieve.

Continuous improvement

We seek your opinions on the service we provide and respond to feedback in order to upgrade and improve what we do.

Build a relationship

Success in business is based around relationships and trust. Our objective is to develop and build strong relationships with our clients, based on two way trust and respect.

Confirm your expectations

Our aim is  to help you maximise your business potential and we tailor our service to meet your requirements and agree a timetable for delivering them.

Actively communicate

Communication is important to the success of any commercial venture. It is therefore a vital part of our work with you, sharing the knowledge and ideas that help you to realise your ambitions.

Our Process

Understand your needs

Confirm your expectations

Actively communicate

Build a relationship

Continuous improvement

Straightforward and easy to deal with Adrian Mooy & Co provide an efficient, friendly and professional service - payroll, tax returns, annual accounts and VAT returns are always done on time.    Eddie Morris

Call us today on 01332 202660

Testimonials

First class! Super accountant! We have been with Adrian Mooy & Co since 1994. They provide a prompt, accurate & reliable service. There is always someone at the end of the phone to help and advise us. They have always delivered and we are more than happy to recommend them.    Ian Cannon

Helpsheets

Business expenses

Being savvy with your expenses is a large part of running a successful business, regardless of its size. Claiming expenses is a simple way to keep your business tax efficient – it reduces your profit, which in turn reduces your tax payments. By claiming every allowable expense you’re making sure you don’t pay a penny more in tax than you have to.

 

For more information about exactly what expenses you can claim, see our helpsheets.

  • Getting ready for off-payroll working changes

    From 6 April 2020 the off-payroll working rules that have applied since 6 April 2017 where the end client is a public sector body are to be extended to large and medium private sector organisations who engage workers providing their services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company.

    There are tax and National Insurance advantages to working ‘off-payroll’ for both the engager and the worker. The typical off-payroll scenario is the worker providing his or her services through an intermediary, such as a personal service company. Providing services via an intermediary is only a problem where the worker would be an employee of the end client if the services were provided directly to that end client. In this situation, the IR35 off-payroll anti-avoidance rules apply and the intermediary (typically a personal service company) should work out the deemed payment arising under the IR35 rules and pay the associated tax and National Insurance over to HMRC.

    New rules

    Compliance with IR35 has always been a problem and it is difficult for HMRC to police. In an attempt to address this, responsibility for deciding whether the rules apply was moved up to the end client where this is a public sector body with effect from 6 April 2017. Where the relationship is such that the worker would be an employee if the services were supplied direct to the public sector body, the fee payer (either the public sector end client or a third party, such as an agency) must deduct tax and National Insurance from payments made to the intermediary.

    These rules are to be extended from 6 April 2020 to apply where the end client is a large or medium-sized private sector organisation. This will apply if at least two of the following apply:

    • turnover of more than 10.2 million;
    • balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million;
    • more than 50 employees.

    Where the end client is ‘small’, the IR35 rules apply as now, with the intermediary remaining responsible for determining whether they apply and working out the deemed payment if they do.

    Getting ready for the changes

    To prepare for the changes, HMRC recommend that medium and large private sector companies should:

    • look at their current workforce to identify those individuals who are supplying their services through personal service companies;
    • determine whether the off-payroll rules will apply for any contracts that extend beyond 6 April 2020;
    • start talking to contractors about whether the off-payroll rules apply to their role; and
    • put processes in place to determine if the off-payroll working rules will apply to future engagements.

    Workers affected by the changes should also consider whether it is worth remaining ‘off-payroll’; providing their services as an employee may be less hassle all round.

  • Are low emissions cars tax efficient?

    Significant changes are being made from 2020-21 to the company car tax benefits-in-kind bands affecting ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

    The taxable benefit arising on a car is calculated using the car’s full manufacturer’s published UK list price, including the full value of any accessories. This figure is then multiplied by the ‘appropriate percentage’, which can be found by reference to the car’s CO2 emissions level. This will give the taxable value of the car benefit. The employee pays income tax on the final figure at their appropriate tax rate: 20% for basic rate taxpayers, 40% for higher rate taxpayers and 45% for additional rate taxpayers. This formula means that in general terms, the lower the C02 emissions of the car, the lower the resulting tax charge will be.

    For 2019-20, the appropriate percentage for cars (whether fully electric or not) is 16% for those emitting 50g/km CO2 or below, and 19% for those emitting CO2 of between 51 and 75g/km. This means that the taxable benefit arising on a zero-emissions car costing, say £30,000 is £4,800, with tax payable of £960 for a basic rate taxpayer - for a higher rate taxpayer this equates to tax payable of £1,920.

    By way of comparison, a 2001cc petrol-engine car with a list price of £30,000, will attract an appropriate percentage of 37% in 2019-20. This equates to a taxable benefit charge of £11,100, and a liability of £2,220 a year for a basic rate taxpayer.

    New bands - In April 2020, new ULEV rates will be introduced, and the most tax efficient cars will be those with CO2 emissions below 50g/km. There will also be additional financial incentives for electric only cars

    From 2020-21, five new bandings are being introduced for full and hybrid electric cars. Fully electric (zero emissions) cars will attract an appropriate percentage of just 2%. This means that the tax benefit arising on an electric car costing say, £30,000 will be just £600. The resulting tax payable by a basic rate taxpayer will be £120 a year and £240 for a higher rate taxpayer.

    For cars emitting CO2 between 1-50g/km, the percentage will depend on the car’s electric range:

    Mileage                     Percentage

    130 miles or more        2%

    70 – 129 miles             5%

    40-69 miles                  8%

    30-39 miles                 12%

    Less than 30 miles      14%

    ULEVs with CO2 emissions of between 50g-74g/km CO2 will be on a graduated scale from 15% to 19% (diesel-only vehicles will continue to attract a further 4% surcharge) as follows:

    CO2 emissions         Percentage

    51 to 54g/km               15%

    55 to 59g/km               16%

    60 to 64g/km               17%

    65 to 69g/km               18%

    70 to 74g/km               19%

    75 or more                   20%

    Plus                             1% per 5g/km

    Up to a maximum        37%

    Whilst the journey towards ‘greener’ driving has been, and continues to be, a rocky one, in 2014/15 a sub-130g/km petrol car was considered green enough to merit an 18% appropriate percentage. However, by 2020/21, the appropriate percentage on such a car will have risen to 30%. A sub-100g/km band car that was only subject to a 12% charge in 2014/15 will also have risen to 24% by 2020/21. On the other hand, clean air all-electric cars will finally plummet to 2% under the new company car tax incentives from April 2020.

    The incentives are clearly designed to encourage ULEVs as a company car driver’s car of choice.

  • Electricity for electric cars – a tax-free benefit

    The Government is keen to encourage drivers to make environmentally friendly choices when it comes to choosing a car. As far as the company car tax market is concerned, tax policy is used to drive behaviour, rewarding drivers choosing lower emission cars with a lower tax charge, while penalising those whose choices are less green.

    The use of the tax system to nudge drivers towards embracing electric cars also applies in relation to the taxation of ‘fuel’. As a result, tax-free benefits on are offer to those drivers who choose to ‘go electric’.

    Company car drivers

    Electricity is not a ‘fuel’ for the purposes of the fuel benefit charge. This means that where an employee has an electric company car, the employer can meet the cost of all the electricity used in the car, including that for private journeys, without triggering a fuel benefit charge. This can offer significant savings when compared with the tax bill that would arise if the employer pays for the private fuel for a petrol or diesel car. However, it should be noted that a fuel charge may apply in relation to hybrid models.

    Example

    Maisy has an electric company car with a list price of £20,000. Her employer meets the cost of all electricity used in the car, including that for private motoring. As electricity is not a fuel for these purposes, there is no fuel benefit charge, and Maisy is enabled to enjoy her private motoring tax-free.

    By way of comparison, the taxable benefit that would arise if the employer meets the cost of private motoring in a petrol or diesel company car with an appropriate percentage of 22% would be £5,302 (£24,100 @ 22%) for 2019/20. The associated tax bill would be £1,060.40 for a basic rate taxpayer and £2,120.80 for a higher rate taxpayer.

    However, the rules do not mean that an employee loses out if they have an electric company car and initially meets the cost of electricity for business journeys and reclaim it from their employer. There is now an advisory fuel rate for electricity which allows employers to reimburse employees meeting the cost of electricity for business journeys at a rate of 4p per mile without triggering a tax bill. However, amounts in excess of 4p per mile will be chargeable.

    Employees using their own cars

    Currently, there is no separate rate for electric cars under the approved mileage payments scheme. This means that the usual rates apply where an employee uses his or her own electric car for business. Consequently, the employer can pay up to 45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles in the year and 25p per mile for subsequent business miles tax-free. If the employer pays less than this, the employee can claim a deduction for the shortfall. Payments in excess of the approved amounts are taxable.

    Employees with their own electric cars can also enjoy the benefit of tax-free electricity for private motoring – but only if they charge their car using a charging point provided by their employer at or near their place of work. The exemption also applies to cars in which the employee is a passenger, so would apply, for example, if an employee’s spouse drove the employee to work, charging their car when dropping the employee off or picking the employee up.

  • Worthless assets and negligible value claims

    Where an asset has been lost or destroyed or the value of the asset has become negligible, it may be possible to take advantage of an allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes. It should be noted, however, that the loss will only be an allowable loss if any gain on the disposal of the asset would have been a chargeable gain.

    A distinction is drawn between assets that have ceased to exist and those that have become of negligible value.

    Assets that have been lost or destroyed - The entire loss, destruction, dissipation or extinction of an asset is treated as a disposal or that asset, regardless of whether or not any compensation is received. The resulting loss is allowable for capital gains tax purposes. If any compensation is received, this is treated as proceeds from the disposal.

    Negligible value claim - If the asset still exists but has become of negligible value, as long as one of two conditions – A or B – is met, a negligible value claim can be made by the owner of the asset.

    The legislation does not define ‘negligible’ but HMRC take the view that it means that is worth ‘next to nothing’.

    Condition A is that the asset has become of negligible value while still owned by the person.

    Condition B is that:

     • the disposal by which the person acquired the asset was a no gain/no loss disposal (as is the case between spouses and civil partners)

     • at the time of that disposal, the asset was of negligible value

     • between the time when the asset became of negligible value and the disposal by which the person acquired it, any other disposal of the asset was on a no gain/no loss basis

    Asset must still exist - For a negligible value claim to succeed, the asset must exist when the claim is made. If the asset has ceased to exist, for capital gains tax purposes there has been an actual disposal of the asset (as outlined above in relation to assets lost or destroyed).

    No time limit - There is no time limit by which a negligible value claim must be made. However, the asset must be of negligible value at the date of the claim. The claimant must be able to demonstrate that the asset became of negligible value while owned by them (or where acquired from a spouse or civil partner in a no gain/no loss disposal, while owned by their spouse or civil partner). Evidence should be retained to support the claim.

    Effect of a successful claim - A successful negligible claim gives rise to a deemed disposal of the asset, with the asset immediately being reacquired for the amount specified in the claim. The loss on the deemed disposal is an allowable loss, provided that any gain that had arisen on the disposal of the asset had been an allowable loss. It should be noted that the allowable loss arises from the deemed disposal rather than from the negligible value claim itself.

    In certain circumstances where the claim relates to qualifying shares, the loss can be set against income.

  • Making Tax Digital for VAT – what records must be kept digitally

    Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT starts from 1 April 2019. VAT-registered businesses whose turnover is above the VAT registration threshold of £85,000 will be required to comply with MTD for VAT from the start of their first VAT accounting period to begin on or after 1 April 2019.

    Digital record-keeping obligations

    Under MTD for VAT, businesses will be required to keep digital records and to file their VAT returns using functional compatible software. The following records must be kept digitally.

    Designatory data - Business name - Address of the principal place of business - VAT registration number - A record of any VAT schemes used (such as the flat rate scheme)

    Supplies made - for each supply made: - Date of supply - Value of the supply - Rate of VAT charged

    Outputs value for the VAT period split between standard rate, reduced rate, zero rate and outside the scope supplies must also be recorded.

    Multiple supplies made at the same time do not need to be recorded separately – record the total value of supplies on each invoice that has the same time of supply and rate of VAT charged.

    Supplies received - for each supply received: - The date of supply - The value of the supply, including any VAT that cannot be reclaimed - The amount of input VAT to be reclaimed.

    If there is more than one supply on the invoice, it is sufficient just to record the invoice totals.

    Digital VAT account

    The VAT account links the business records and the VAT return. The VAT account must be maintained digitally, and the following information should be recorded digitally:

    1. The output tax owed on sales.
    2. The output tax owed on acquisitions from other EU member states.
    3. The tax that must be paid on behalf of suppliers under the reverse charge procedures.
    4. Any VAT that must be paid following a correction or an adjustment for an error.
    5. Any other adjustments required under the VAT rules.

    In addition, to show the link between the input tax recorded in the business' records and that reclaimed on the VAT return, the following must be recorded digitally:

    1. The input tax which can be reclaimed from business purchases.
    2. The input tax allowable on acquisitions from other EU member states.
    3. Any VAT that can be reclaimed following a correction or an adjustment for an error.
    4. Any other necessary adjustments.

    The information held in the Digital VAT account is used to complete the VAT return using `functional compatible software’.  This is software, or a set of compatible software programmes, capable of:

    • Recording electronically the data required to be kept digitally under MTD for VAT.
    • Preserving those records electronically.
    • Providing HMRC with the required information and VAT return electronically from the data in the electronic records using an API platform.
    • Receiving information from HMRC.

    Functional compatible software is used to maintain the mandatory digital records, calculate the return and submit it to HMRC via an API.

    Getting ready - The clock is ticking and MTD for VAT is now less than a year away.

  • Family companies – optimal salary for 2019/20

    For personal and family companies it can be beneficial to extract some profits in the form of a salary. Where the individual does not have the 35 qualifying years necessary to qualify for the full single-tier state pension, paying a salary which is equal to or above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes will ensure that the year is a qualifying year.

    New tax rates and allowances came into effect from 6 April 2019, applying for the 2019/20 tax year. These have an impact on the optimal salary calculation for family and personal companies. As in previous years, the optimal salary level will depend on whether or not the National Insurance employment allowance is available.

    It should be remembered that directors have an annual earnings period for NI purposes.

    Employment allowance unavailable - Companies in which the sole employee is also a director are not able to benefit from the employment allowance. This means that most personal companies are not eligible for the allowance. Where the allowance is not available or has been utilised elsewhere, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary and secondary threshold set at £8,632 (equivalent to £719 per month and £166 per week).

    At this level, assuming that the director’s personal allowance (set at £12,500) is available, there is no tax or employer’s or employee’s National Insurance to pay. However, as the salary is above the lower earnings limit of £6,136 (£512 per month, £118 per week), it will provide a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes.

    The salary is deductible in computing the company’s taxable profits for corporation tax purposes, saving corporation tax of 19%.

    Employment allowance is available - It is beneficial to pay a salary equal to the personal allowance (assuming that this is not used elsewhere) where the employment allowance (set at £3,000 for 2019/20) is available to shelter the employer’s National Insurance that would otherwise arise to the extent that the salary exceeds £8,632.

    Although employee’s National Insurance is payable to the extent that the salary exceeds the primary threshold of £8,632, this is more than offset by the corporation tax deduction on the higher salary.

    For 2019/20, a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 exceeds the primary threshold by £3,868. Therefore, employee’s National Insurance of £464.16 (£3,868 @ 12%) is payable on a salary of £12,500. However, as salary payments are deductible for corporation tax purposes, the additional salary of £3,868 saves corporation tax of £734.92 (£3,868 @ 19%). This exceeds the employee’s National Insurance payable by £270.46.

    So paying a salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 allows more profits to be retained (to the tune of £270.46) than paying a salary equal to the primary threshold of £8,632.

    If the director has a higher personal allowance, for example, where he or she receives the marriage allowance, the optimal salary is one equal to that higher personal allowance.

    Director is under 21 - Where the director is under the age of 21, the optimal salary is one equal to the personal allowance of £12,500 regardless of whether the employment allowance is available. No employer National Insurance is payable on the earnings of employees or directors under the age of 21 until their earnings exceeds the upper secondary threshold for under 21's set at £50,000 for 2019/20. Employee contributions are, however, payable as normal

    Any benefit in paying a salary above the personal allowance? - Once the personal allowance is reached it is not worthwhile paying a higher salary as further salary payments will be taxed and the combined tax and National Insurance hit will outweigh the corporation tax savings.

  • Be aware of 60% tax rate risk on bonuses

    In the lead up to Christmas and the end of the financial year for many businesses, some directors and employees may be fortunate enough to be thinking of a bonus. If this is the case, it might be worth reviewing things beforehand to see if there is a risk of suffering effective tax rates of up to 60%, and if so, whether this can be avoided.

    The risk of paying a high effective tax rate on a bonus stems from the abatement of the personal tax allowance where the individual’s ‘adjusted net income’ is equal to, or above, £100,000 for a particular tax year. The personal tax allowance for 2019/20 is £12,500, but this will be reduced by £1 for every £2 the taxpayer’s income is over that limit. The personal allowance may be reduced to nil from this income limit. Broadly, ‘adjusted net income’ is total taxable income before any personal allowances, less certain tax reliefs (including trading losses, Gift Aid donations, and pension contributions).

    As a consequence of the personal allowance abatement rules, a taxpayer with income between £100,000 and approximately £119,000 will suffer marginal tax rates of up to 60% as the personal allowance is withdrawn.

    Example

    Graham is an employee of a company from which he draws a salary of £100,000 per annum He has no other sources of income. In December 2019 he will be paid a bonus of £7,000. He is entitled to a personal tax allowance of £12,500 in 2019/20, but he loses £3,500 of it (£1 for every £2 earned over £100,000 ((£107,000 – £100,000) /2)), leaving him with an allowance of £9,000. He will pay tax of £2,800 (£7,000 × 40%) on the bonus, plus an extra £1,400 due to lost allowances (£3,500 × 40%). His total tax attributable to the bonus is therefore £4,200. Graham will therefore pay tax on the bonus at an effective rate of 60% (£4,200/£7,000 x 100).

    Hannah on the other hand, receives an annual salary of £125,000 from employment. She also has no other sources of income. Hannah is also expecting to receive a bonus of £7,000 in December 2019. She is entitled to a personal tax allowance of £12,500 in 2019-20, but she loses entitlement to all of it because her basic salary exceeds the point at which the allowance is fully withdrawn (£125,000). Receiving the bonus, therefore, results in no further adjustment to her personal allowance. She will simply pay tax of £2,800 (£7,000 × 40%) on the bonus, which means that her effective tax rate on that part of his income is only 40%.

    So, what action can be taken to minimise exposure to these marginal rates?

    Taxpayers with income slightly exceeding the £100,000 ceiling may avoid losing some or all of their personal allowance by taking steps to reduce ‘adjusted net income’ to below the abatement threshold. Options worth considering may include:

     • Increasing pension contributions - for example, a taxpayer with income of £105,000 might consider making a pension contribution of £5,000. They will get 40% tax relief on the contribution, and the full personal allowance will be reinstated.

     • Making donations to charity under the Gift Aid scheme. For the charity, the donation is assumed to be made net of basic rate tax, which the charity claims back from HMRC. For the taxpayer, their basic rate tax band is increased by the value of the gross donation, which in turn reduces the amount of income to be taxed at the higher rate.

     • Consider transferring income-producing assets to a lower-earning spouse or partner.

    As with all tax planning opportunities, the wider picture should be considered before taking any action. In particular, the benefits of any tax saving need to outweigh the cost and administrative inconvenience of the transaction.

  • Family member pension contributions

    Although there continues to be plenty of speculation over possible pension tax relief cuts, as things currently stand, paying into a pension generally remains a tax-efficient way of saving for old-age. Given that there may well be future changes in this area, it might be beneficial to consider starting, or topping up, pension plans sooner rather than later.

    Most employer pension contributions will count as allowable business expenses, so a company could currently save up to 19% in corporation tax if it makes qualifying contributions on behalf of its employees. This may be particularly beneficial in a family-owned company where pensions for family members can be built up whist saving both the investor and the company money. In order to qualify for a deduction, the pension contributions should be ‘wholly and exclusively’ for the purposes of business. HMRC will check for evidence that this is the case, for example whether other employees are receiving comparable remuneration packages.

    Reliefs - Subject to certain conditions, tax relief is currently available on pension contributions at the highest rate of income tax paid, meaning that basic rate taxpayers get relief on contributions at 20%, higher rate taxpayers at 40%, and additional rate taxpayers at 45%. In Scotland, income tax is banded differently, and pension tax relief is applied in a slightly different way.

    A contribution of £100, will currently only cost a basic rate taxpayer £80. The contribution is deemed as being made net of tax (£80) and the pension provider claims the tax relief (£20) from the government. The gross contribution (£100) is invested in the pension plan. Higher rate and additional rate taxpayers need only to pay £60 and £55 respectively to achieve the same £100 of pension savings.

    Pensions are a particularly tax-efficient form of savings since nearly everyone is entitled to receive relief on contributions up to an annual maximum regardless of whether they pay tax or not. The maximum amount on which a non-taxpayer can currently receive basic rate tax relief is £3,600. So, an individual can pay in £2,880 a year, but £3,600 will be the amount actually invested by the pension provider. Higher amounts may be invested, but tax relief will not be given on the excess. Any tax relief received from HMRC on excess contributions may have to be repaid.

    It’s worth noting that where family members are employed and pension contributions paid by the company, there needs to be a genuine business reason for it. The family member should be paid a commercial amount for work that they have actually undertaken, and the company should be able to prove that this is the case.

    Auto-enrolment - A spouse/civil partner or other family member may be employed to help with a business. If they are paid a salary and they are not a director, they may be an ‘eligible worker’, which means the business may need to automatically enrol them into a pension scheme. A worker that is eligible to join a workplace pension is an employee aged between 22 and the state pension age that is paid over £833 per month or £192 per week.

    If they are a director, there may still be enrolment obligations (see the Pensions Advisory service at www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk for further details). The minimum contributions employers and their staff must pay into their workplace pension scheme has increased with effect from 6 April 2019. Anyone employing staff should check that these legal obligations are being complied with.

    One-person limited companies are exempt from pensions auto-enrolment, which means that the company does not have to provide a workplace pension whilst the owner/director is the only employee.

    Working out how best to utilise pension contributions tax relief can be complicated, and seeking professional advice is recommended.

  • VAT registration – sooner or later?

    Once a business is up and running, the next major administrative area to be faced often concerns the subject of VAT. At first glance, it looks complicated - not to mention time-consuming - particularly for small businesses. However, taken one step at a time, the rules governing VAT registration and invoicing are generally quite straight-forward and relatively easy to navigate.

    The law states that all traders – whether sole traders, partnerships, or limited companies – are obliged to register to charge and pay VAT once their taxable turnover reaches a pre-set annual threshold, which is currently £85,000. Broadly, a business must register for VAT if:

    • its taxable outputs, including zero-rates sales (but not exempt, non-business, or ‘outside the scope’ supplies), have exceeded the registration threshold in the previous 12 calendar months – unless the business can satisfy HMRC that its taxable supplies in the next 12 months will not exceed a figure £2,000 below the registration threshold (so currently £83,000); or

    • there are reasonable grounds for believing that the business’s taxable outputs in the next 30 days will exceed the registration threshold; or

    • the business takes over another business as a going concern, to which the two bullet points above apply.

    A business can register for VAT voluntarily if its turnover is below the threshold and it may actually save tax by doing so, particularly if its main clients or customers are organisations that can reclaim VAT themselves.

    Example - Sandra is a non-VAT registered carpenter and a basic rate taxpayer. She buys a new saw to use in her business, which cost £100 plus VAT, so she pays a total of £120 (£100 plus VAT at 20%), which can be set against her business profits for income tax purposes. As Sandra is a basic rate (20%) taxpayer, she will save tax of £24 (20% of £120), so the saw actually costs her £96. However, if the business is VAT-registered, the £20 VAT paid on the item (the input tax) can be reclaimed and £100 is set against business profits for income tax. The tax reduction is therefore £20 (20% of £100) and the saw actually costs him £80 – saving £16 by being registered for VAT.

    Is non-registration preferable? - VAT-registered businesses supplying goods and services to private individuals often feel dis-advantaged compared with their non-registered counterparts because they have to charge an additional 20% on every bill issued.

    A trader who does not want to have to register for VAT, may be able to stay below the annual VAT registration threshold by supplying labour-only services and getting customers to buy any goods needed themselves.

    Example - Bob is a non-VAT registered plumber, but his turnover is creeping up towards the VAT registration threshold. He could ask his customers to buy materials for a job directly from a DIY shop. Although the customers will have to pay the VAT on these items, they won’t have to pay VAT on Bob’s invoice for labour services. This will also have the additional advantage of reducing Bob’s annual turnover for VAT registration purposes.

    Registration benefits - Deciding whether to register for VAT voluntarily before the registration threshold is reached is a big decision that can have lasting implications for the financial health of the business. It is vital therefore, that the matter is given careful consideration. There are several positive reasons supporting voluntary registration, including:

    • Reclaiming VAT - although a registered business will have to charge VAT on goods and services (known as charging ‘output tax’), it will also be able to reclaim VAT that it is charged by other businesses (known as ‘input tax’). Where input tax exceeds output tax in a given period, the business will generally be able to reclaim the difference from HMRC.

    • Marketplace perceptions - some businesses choose to register for VAT in order to appear larger than they are. Customers are likely to be aware of the £85,000 registration threshold and where a business is not registered, its customers will know that the business turnover is lower than this. A business may therefore consider registration as a way of increasing its standing amongst competitors, and in the eyes of clients.

  • Salary v dividend for 2019/20

    A popular profits extraction strategy for personal and family companies is to extract a small salary, taking further profits as dividends. Where this strategy is pursued for 2019/20, what level should be the salary be set at to ensure the strategy remain tax efficient?

    Salary

    As well as being tax effective, taking a small salary is also advantageous in that it allows the individual to secure a qualifying year for State Pension and contributory benefits purposes.

    Assuming the personal allowance has not been used elsewhere and is available to set against the salary, the optimal salary level for 2019/20 depends on whether the employment allowance is available and whether the employee is under the age of 21. The employment allowance is set at £3,000 for 2019/20 but is not available to companies where the sole employee is also a director (meaning that personal companies do not generally benefit).

    In the absence of the employment allowance and where the individual is aged 21 or over, the optimal salary for 2019/20 is equal to the primary threshold, i.e. £8,632 a year (equivalent to £719 per month). At this level, no employee’s or employer’s National Insurance or tax is due. The salary is also deductible for corporation tax purposes. A bonus is that a salary at this level means that the year is a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefits purposes – for zero contribution cost. Beyond this level, it is better to take dividends than pay a higher salary as the combined National Insurance hit (25.8%) is higher than the corporation tax deduction for salary payments.

    Where the employment allowance is available, or the employee is under 21, it is tax-efficient to pay a higher salary equal to the personal allowance of £12,500. As long as the personal allowance is available, the salary will be tax free. It will also be free of employer’s National Insurance, either because the liability is offset by the employment allowance or, if the individual is under 21, because earnings are below the upper secondary threshold for under 21s (set at £50,000 for 2019/20). The salary paid in excess of the primary threshold (£3,868) will attract primary contributions of £464.16, but this is outweighed by the corporation tax saving on the additional salary of £734.92 – a net saving of £279.76. Once a salary equal to the personal allowance is reached, the benefit of the corporation tax deduction is lost as any further salary is taxable. It is tax efficient to extract further profits as dividends.

    Dividends

    Dividends can only be paid if the company has sufficient retained profits available. Unlike salary payments, dividends are not tax-deductible and are paid out of profits on which corporation tax (at 19%) has already been paid.

    However, dividends benefit from their own allowance – set at £2,000 for 2019/20 and payable to all individuals regardless of the rate at which they pay tax – and once the allowance has been used, dividends are taxed at lower rates than salary payments (7.5%, 32.5% and 38.1% rather than 20%, 40% and 45%).

    Once the optimal salary has been paid, dividends should be paid to use up the dividend allowance. If further profits are to be extracted, there will be tax to pay, but the combined tax and National Insurance hit for dividends is less than for salary payments, making them the preferred option.

  •  

  • Calculating the Class 4 NIC liability

    The self-employed pay two classes of National Insurance contributions – Class 2 and Class 4.

    Class 2 contributions are weekly flat rate contributions which provide the mechanism by which the self-employed build up their entitlement to the state pension and certain contributory benefits. By contrast, Class 4 contributions are based on profits from the self-employment and operate more like a tax in that they do not confer any benefit or pension entitlement.

    Nature of Class 4 contributions - Class 4 National Insurance contributions are payable by self-employed earners aged 16 or over and below state pension age. The liability is triggered once profits from the self-employment reach the lower profits limit, set at £8,632 for 2019/20. This is aligned with the primary and secondary thresholds for Class 1 National Insurance purposes.

    Class 4 contributions are payable at the main rate on profits between the lower profits limit and the upper profits limit and at the additional rate on profits in excess of the upper profits limit. For 2019/20, the upper profits limit is set at £50,000, aligning with both the upper earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance purposes and the rate at which higher rate tax becomes payable.

    The main Class 4 rate is set at 9% for 2019/20 and the additional Class 4 rate is set at 2%.

    Example 1 - John is self-employed as a personal trainer. In 2019/20 his profits from self-employment are £7,250.

    As his profits are below the lower profits limit, he does not need to pay any Class 4 National Insurance contributions for 2019/20.

    However, as his profits exceed the small profits limit of £6,365 for Class 2 National Insurance purposes, he must pay weekly Class 2 contributions of £3 per week.

    Example 2 - Jane is self-employed as an interior designer. In 2019/20 her profits from self-employment are £32,000.

    She must pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions on her profits to the extent that they exceed the lower profits limit for 2019/20 of £8,632.

    Her Class 4 National Insurance liability is as follows:

    9% (£32,000 - £8,632) = £2,103.12

    Jane must also pay Class 2 contributions of £3 per week.

    Example 3 - Jackie is a self-employed accountant. For 2019/20 her profits from self-employment are £77,000. She must pay Class 4 National Insurance contributions on her profits to the extent that they exceed the lower profits limit for 2019/20 of £8,632.

    Her Class 4 National Insurance liability is as follows:

    (9% (£50,000 - £8,632)) + (2% (£77,000 - £50,000)) = £4,263.12

    Jackie must also pay Class 2 contributions of £3 per week.

    Paying the Class 4 National Insurance liability - Class 4 National Insurance contributions are payable with tax under the self-assessment system. The liability must be paid by 31 January after the end of the tax year to which it relates – so Class 4 National Insurance contributions for 2019/20 must be paid by 31 January 2021.

    Unlike Class 2 contributions, Class 4 contributions are taken into account in computing payments on account. Payments on account must be made where the previous year’s tax and Class 4 National Insurance liability was £1,000 or more unless at least 80% of the tax due for that year was collected at source.

  • Director’s salary or bonus?

    Given current tax rates, paying a dividend rather than a salary will often be a more cost-effective way of withdrawing profits from a company.  Tax is currently payable on any dividend income received over the £2,000 annual dividend allowance at the following rates:

     • 7.5% on dividend income within the basic rate band (up to £37,500 in 2019-20)

     • 32.5% on dividend income within the higher rate band (£37,501 to £150,000 in 2019-20)

     • 38.1% on dividend income within the additional rate band (over £150,000 in 2019-20)

    However, if the company is loss-making and has no retained profits, it will not be possible to declare a dividend, and an alternative will need to be considered. This often involves an increased salary or a one-off bonus payment.

    From a tax perspective, the position will be the same whether a salary or bonus is paid. Both types of payment attract income tax at the recipient’s relevant rate of tax (20%, 40% or 45% as appropriate).

    However, from a National Insurance Contributions (NICs) perspective, the position, and any potential cost savings, will depend on whether or not the payment is made to a director.

    Directors have an annual earnings period for NIC purposes. Broadly, this means that NICs payable will be the same regardless of whether the payment is made in regular instalments or as a single lump sum bonus.  In addition, since there is no upper limit of employer (secondary) NICs, the company’s position will be the same regardless of whether the payment is made by way of a salary or a bonus.

    Where a bonus or salary payment is to be made to another family member who is not a director, the earnings period rules mean that it may be possible to save employees’ NICs by paying a one-off bonus rather than a regular salary.

    Example - Henry is the sole director of a company and an equal 50% shareholder with his wife Susan. In 2019/20 they each receive a salary of £720 per month.

    In the year ended 31 March 2020, the company makes profits of £24,000 (after paying the salaries). The profits are to be shared equally between Henry and Susan. They want to know whether it will be more cost effective to extract the profits as an additional salary – each receiving an additional £1,000 per month for the next twelve months - or as a one-off bonus payment with each receiving £12,000.

    The income tax position will be the same regardless of which method is used.

    As Henry is a director, his NIC position will be the same regardless of which route is taken as he has an annual earnings period for NIC purposes.

    Susan is not a director, so the normal earnings period for NIC in a month will be the interval in which her existing salary is paid.

    Assuming NIC rates and thresholds remain the same in 2020/21, if Susan receives an additional salary of £1,000 a month, she will pay Class 1 NIC of £120 (£1,000 x 12%) a month on that additional salary. Her annual NIC bill on the additional salary of £12,000 will be £1,440.

    However, if she receives a lump sum bonus of £12,000 in one month (in addition to her normal monthly salary of £720), she will pay NIC on the bonus of £585 ((£3,450 x 12%) + (£8,550 x 2%)).

    Paying a bonus instead of a salary reduces Susan’s NIC bill by £855.

    Finally, it is important to note that in determining an effective company profit extraction strategy, tax should never be the only consideration. Any profit extraction strategy should be consistent with the wider goals and aims of the company.

  • Private residence relief and the final period exemption

    From a capital gains tax perspective, there are significant tax savings to be had if a property has been the owner’s only or main residence. The main gains are where the property has been the only or main residence throughout the whole period of ownership as private residence relief applies in full to shelter any gain arising on the disposal of the property from capital gains tax.

    However, there are also advantages if a property enjoys only or main residence status for part of the ownership period; not only are any gains relating to that period sheltered from capital gains tax, but those covered by the final period exemption are also tax-free.

    The final period exemption works to shelter any gain arising in the final period of ownership from capital gains tax if the property has at any time, however briefly, been the owner’s only or main residence. This can be particularly useful if the property is, say, lived in as a main home and then let out prior to being sold, or where a person has two or more residences.

    Prior to 6 April 2020, the final period exemption applies generally to the last 18 months of ownership. Where the person making the disposal is a disabled person or a long-term resident in a care home, the final period exemption applies to the last 36 months of ownership.

    From 6 April 2020, the final period exemption is reduced to nine months, although it will remain at 36 months for care home residents and disabled persons.

    Planning ahead

    Where a property which has been occupied as a main residence at some point, it could be very advantageous to dispose of it prior to 6 April 2020 rather than after that date to benefit from the longer final period exemption.

    Example

    Frankie has a cottage on the coast that he brought on 1 January 2010 for £200,000. He lived in it as his main residence for two years until 31 December 2011, when he purchased a city flat which has been his main residence since that date. He continues to use the cottage as a holiday home.

    He plans to sell the cottage and expects to get £320,000.

    Scenario 1 – sale on 31 March 2020

    If Frankie sells the cottage on 31 March 2020, he will have owned the cottage for a total of 10 years and three months (123 months). Of that period, he lived in it for 24 months as his only or main residence. As the sale takes place prior to 6 April 2020, he will benefit from the final period exemption for the last 18 months.

    The gain on sale is £120,000 (£320,000 - £200,000)

    He qualifies for 42 months’ private residence relief, which is worth £40,976 (42/123 x £120,000).

    The chargeable gain is therefore £79,024 (£120,000 - £40,976).

    Scenario 2 – sale on 30 April 2020

    If Frankie does not sell the property until 30 April 2020, he will only benefit from a nine-month final period exemption. If he sells on this date, he will have owned the property for 124 months. Assuming the sale price remains at £320,000 and the gain at £120,000, the gain which is sheltered by private residence relief is £31,935 (33/124 x £120,000), and the chargeable gain is increased to £88,065 (£120,000 - £31,935).

    If planning to dispose of a property which has been an only or main residence for some but not all of the period of ownership, selling prior to 6 April 2020 will enable the owner to shelter the gain pertaining to the last 18 months of ownership.

  • Just starting out

    As long as HMRC can be satisfied that a business is being run on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit, they will usually allow taxpayers to claim tax relief for a trading loss in one tax year against other taxable income (for example PAYE income or a pension) from the same year, or the preceding year. This can be quite beneficial as the claimant can choose which year to claim the losses against. However, HMRC will usually restrict loss relief claimed by individuals who carry on a trade but spend an average of less than ten hours a week on commercial activities.

    Early days - The provisions for tax relief on business losses can be particularly useful in the early years of trading. Broadly, this is because a loss incurred in any of the first four tax years of a new business may be carried back against total income of the three previous tax years, starting with the earliest year. Therefore, if tax has been paid in any of the previous three years, the taxpayer should be entitled to a repayment of tax, which may be especially welcome in those often difficult first few years of running a business.

    The rules for this carry back stipulate that the maximum amount of the loss must be offset each year – it is not permissible to offset just a proportion of the loss in order to spread the loss across three years to take advantage of beneficial tax rates. Again, relief will not be available unless the taxpayer was trading on a commercial basis with a view to making a profit within a reasonable timescale. In practice, this requirement may be difficult to prove in the case of a new business and the taxpayer may need a viable business plan to support a claim.

    Cap on relief - A cap now restricts certain previously unlimited income tax reliefs that may be deducted from income. Trade loss relief against general income, and early trade losses relief, as outlined above, are two areas where this restriction might apply. The cap is set at £50,000 or 25% of income, whichever is greater. ‘Income’ for the purposes of the cap is calculated as ‘total income liable to income tax’. This figure is then adjusted to include charitable donations made via payroll giving and to exclude pension contributions – the adjustment is designed to create a level playing field between those whose deductions are made before they pay income tax, and those whose deductions are made after tax. The result, known as ‘adjusted total income’, will be the measure of income for the purpose of the cap.

    The cap applies to the year of the claim and any earlier or later years in which the relief claimed is allocated against total income. The limit does not apply to relief that is offset against profits from the same trade or property business.

    No need to lose out - Where a loss is made in a tax year, but the trader does not have any other income against which it can be set, the loss can be carried forward indefinitely and used to reduce the first available profits of the same business in subsequent years.

    Finally, losses arising from a business may be set off against any chargeable capital gains. Relief may be claimed for the tax year of the loss and/or the previous tax year. However, the trading loss first has to be used against any other income the taxpayer may have for the year of the claim (for example, against earnings from employment) in priority to any capital gains.

  • Capital gains tax and chattels

    For capital gains tax purposes, not all chattels are equal. In some cases, it is possible to realise a profit on the disposal of a chattel and enjoy that profit tax free, whereas in other cases, capital gains tax must be paid. It all depends on whether the chattel is a wasting chattel or a non-wasting chattel, and where it falls in the latter camp, the amount of the disposal proceeds.

    What is a chattel? - The word ‘chattel’ is a legal term that means an item of tangible movable property. This covers personal possessions, including items of household furniture, paintings and antiques, cars, motorcycles. Items of plant and machinery which are not fixed to a building are also chattels.

    Exemption for cars - Private cars and other passenger vehicles are exempt from capital gains tax.

    Wasting assets - A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable life of 50 years or less. Certain chattels are always treated as wasting assets, such as plant or machinery.

    A gain or loss on a disposal of a wasting chattel is exempt from capital gains tax unless capital allowances have or could have been claimed on the asset. Capital gains tax also applies if a chattel with a predictable life of more than 50 years is loaned to a business which uses it as plant.

    Non-wasting chattels - Chattels with a predictable life of more than 50 years are non-wasting chattels. This would include paintings and jewellery.

    The capital gains tax position depends on the sale proceeds.

    Chattels exemption – proceeds £6,000 or less

    An exemption - the chattels exemptions – applies if a gain arises on the disposal of a chattel and the disposal proceeds do not exceed £6,000.

    Example 1 - Max purchases a painting from an unknown artist for £300. The artist becomes popular and Max sells the painting for £5,000, realising a gain of £4,700.

    As the disposal proceeds are less than £6,000, the chattels exemption applies, and the gain is exempt from capital gains tax.

    Chattels exemption – proceeds more than £6,000

    Where the proceeds are more than £6,000, the gain is reduced by five-thirds of the difference between the amount of the consideration and £6,000.

    Where the disposal proceeds are more than £15,000, the maximum gain will exceed the actual gain, so the relief is not in point.

    Example 2 - Ruby acquires an antique brooch for £3,000. It becomes a collectible item and she sells it for £10,000.

    The maximum chargeable gain is 5/3 (£10,000 - £6,000) = £6,667

    The actual gain is £7,000. As this exceeds the maximum permitted gain, the chargeable gain is £6,667.

    Losses - In the same way that the exemption operates to reduce the chargeable gain, it also caps the allowable loss. If a loss arises and the consideration on disposal is less than £6,000, it is deemed to be £6,000 for the purposes of computing the loss.

    Example 3 - Lola buys a painting for £7,000 which turns out to be a fake. She is able to sell it for £100, realising an actual loss of £6,900.

    However, in computing the allowable loss for capital gains tax purposes, the consideration is deemed to be £6,000. The allowable loss is therefore £1,000 (£6,000 - £7,000) rather than £6,900.

    Sets of chattels - Special rules apply to sets of chattels. This is to prevent people from artificially splitting a set worth more than £6,000 and selling each item separately to the same person for less than £6,000 each to benefit from the chattels exemption. The anti-avoidance provisions work to treat the set as a single asset in respect of which only one £6,000 limit is allowed.

  • When and how to incorporate

    Over the last decade, corporation tax rates for most companies – irrespective of size - have fluctuated between 19% and 21%. The main rate of corporation tax is expected to be cut to 17% from April 2020.

    Current corporation tax rates are still pretty favourable and are indeed generally lower than those paid by many individuals. In addition, there are other areas where company formation may help save tax. Although the costs and regulations involved with running a company are usually greater than trading as a sole trader or in partnership, and more administration is generally needed, using a company as a vehicle through which to trade remains a popular choice.

    The starting point for dealing with companies and company directors is to remember that a limited company exists in its own right, which means that the company’s finances are separate from the personal finances of the company owners. Strict laws mean that the shareholders cannot simply take money out of the company whenever they feel like it.

    When to incorporate - The question of whether to incorporate commonly arises as a business expands – the limited liability status that company formation provides is often needed to start winning contracts with bigger companies. However, incorporating may not be such a good deal in the early days of trade, or if there is no intention to grow beyond the status of a solely owned business. This may be particularly relevant if losses are envisaged in the early years of trading – for sole traders and partnerships, it is possible to carry back losses made in the first four years and offset them, where applicable, against personal income of the three preceding years. This often results in a substantial refund of tax becoming due and may offer a much-needed cash boost to the business.

    How to incorporate - Firstly, the company must choose a name, which cannot be the same as another registered company’s name. If it is too similar to another company’s name or trademark it may have to be changed.

    The company must have at least one director who is a natural person, and a public company must have at least two directors. A private company need not appoint a company secretary, although in practice many choose to do so.

    There must be at least one shareholder or guarantor, who can also be a director.

    The company will need to prepare a 'memorandum of association' and 'articles of association', as provided for by Companies Act 2006. Broadly, these documents set out how the company will be run.

    Private limited companies are also required to maintain a register of those persons who have significant control of the company – known as a ‘PSC Register’. The function of the Register is to increase corporate transparency for the purpose of combating tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing.

    The company must register with HMRC for corporation tax and PAYE as an employer at the same time as registering with Companies House. This must be done within three months of starting to do business. The company may also be required to register for VAT if it meets the registration criteria.

    Although there are disadvantages to incorporating a business, the lower tax rates and other reliefs currently on offer still make it an attractive proposition. Some advantages worth considering include:

     • ability to pay dividends to shareholders, which may in turn reduce liability to NICs

     • flexible succession planning, particularly for inheritance tax purposes

     • great investment opportunities, for example potential to raise money through tax-efficient schemes such as the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS)

     • limited liability status for shareholders, although directors may be asked to give personal guarantees of loans to the company and may still be held liable for the debts of a company

     • potential increased saleability

    Business owners are recommended to evaluate the advantages of incorporation on an on-going basis.

  • Optimising tax-free benefits in family companies

    Making use of statutory exemptions for certain benefits-in-kind offers an opportunity to extract funds from a family company without triggering a tax charge.

    The essential point to note is that to make the tax saving, the benefit itself, rather than the funds with which to buy the benefit, must be provided.

    Mobiles - No tax charge arises where an employer provides an employee with a mobile phone, irrespective of the level of private use. The exemption applies to one phone per employee.

    A taxable benefit will however, arise if the employer meets the employee's private bill for a mobile phone or if top-up vouchers are provided which can be used on any phone

    Example - John and Jan Smith are directors of their family-owned company. Their two children also work for the company. The company takes out a contract for four mobile phones and provides each member of the family with a phone. The bills are paid directly to the phone provider by the company. The bills are deductible in computing profits. Each family member receives the use of a phone tax-free, which means they do not need to fund one from their post-tax income.

    Pension contributions - Pensions remain a particularly tax-efficient form of savings since nearly everyone is entitled to receive relief on contributions up to an annual maximum regardless of whether they pay tax or not. The maximum amount on which a non-taxpayer can currently receive basic rate tax relief is £3,600. So an individual can pay in £2,880 a year, but £3,600 will be the amount actually invested by the pension provider. Higher amounts may be invested, but tax relief will not be given on the excess. Any tax relief received from HMRC on excess contributions may have to be repaid.

    Pension contributions paid by a company in respect of its directors or employees are allowable unless there is an identifiable non-trade purpose. Contributions relating to a controlling director (one who owns more than 20% of the company’s share capital), or an employee who is a relative or close friend of the controlling director, may be queried by HMRC. In establishing whether a payment is for the purposes of the trade, HMRC will examine the company’s intentions in making the payment.

    Pension contributions will be viewed in the light of the overall remuneration package and if the level of the package is excessive for the value of the work undertaken, the contributions may be disallowed. However, HMRC will generally accept that contributions are paid ‘wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade’ where the remuneration package paid is comparable with that paid to unconnected employees performing duties of similar value.

    Subject to certain conditions being satisfied, other tax-free benefits that a family company may consider include:

    • bicycles or bicycle safety equipment for travel to work

    • gifts not costing more than £250 per year from any one donor

    • Christmas and other parties, dinners, etc, provided the total cost to the employer for each person attending is not more than £150 a year

    • one health screening and one medical check-up per employee, per year

    • the first £500 worth of pensions advice provided to an employee (including former and prospective employees) in a tax year

    • medical treatments recommended by employer-arranged occupational health services. The exemption is subject to an annual cap of £500 per employee

    Employing family members, and providing them tax-free benefits, often enables a family-owned company to take advantage of the lower tax rates, personal allowances and exemptions that may be available to a spouse, civil partner, or children. In turn, this arrangement can help reduce the household’s overall tax bill.

  • When is a car a pool car?

    Rather than allocating specific cars to particular employees, some employers find it preferable to operate a carpool and have a number of cars available for use by employees when they need to undertake a business journey. From a tax perspective, provided that certain conditions are met, no benefit in kind tax charge will arise where an employee makes use of a pool car.

    The conditions

    There are five conditions that must be met for a car to be treated as a pool car for tax purposes.

    1. The car is made available to, and actually is used by, more than one employee.

    2. In each case, it is made available by reason of the employee’s employment.

    3. The car is not ordinarily used by one employee to the exclusion of the others.

    4. In each case, any private use by the employee is merely incidental to the employee’s business use of the car.

    5. The car is not normally kept overnight on or in the vicinity of any of the residential premises where any of the employees was residing (subject to an exception if kept overnight on premises occupied by the person making the cars available).

    The tax exemption only applies if all five conditions are met.

    When private use is ‘merely incidental’

    To meet the definition of a pool car, the car should only be available for genuine business use. However, in deciding whether this test is met, private use is disregarded as long as that private use is ‘merely incidental’ to the employee’s business use of the car.

    HMRC regard the test as being a qualitative rather than a quantitative test. It does not refer to the actual private mileage, rather the private element in the context of the journey as a whole. For example, if an employee is required to make a long business journey and takes the car home the previous evening in order to get an early start, the private use comprising the journey from work to home the previous evening would be regarded as ‘merely incidental’. The car is taken home to facilitate the business journey the following day.

    Kept overnight at employee’s homes – the 60% test

    For a car to meet the definition of a pool car, it must not normally be kept overnight at employees’ homes. In deciding whether this test is met, HMRC apply a rule of thumb – as long as the total number of nights on which a car is taken home by employees, for whatever reason, is less than 60% of the total number of nights in the period, HMRC accept that the condition is met.

    When a benefit in kind tax charge arises

    If the car does not meet the definition of a pool car and is made available for the employee’s private use, a tax charge will arise under the company car tax rules.

  • Curtailment of letting relief

    Landlords have been hit with a number of tax hikes in recent years, and this trend shows no signs of abating. From 6 April 2020, lettings relief – a valuable capital gains tax relief which is available where a property which has at some point been the owner’s only or main residence is let out – is seriously curtailed.

    Now - Under the current rules letting relief applies to shelter part of the gain arising on the sale of a property which has been let out as residential accommodation and which at some time was the owner’s only or main residence. The amount of the letting relief is the lowest of the following three amounts:

    • the amount of private residence relief available on the disposal;

    • £40,000; and

    • the gain attributable to the letting.

    Under the current rules, periods of residential letting count regardless of whether or not the landlord also lives in the property.

    From 6 April 2020 - From 6 April 2020, letting relief will only be available where the owner of the property shares occupancy with a tenant. From that date, lettings relief is available where at some point the owner of the property lets out part of their main residence as residential accommodation and shares occupation of that residence with an individual who has no interest in the residence.

    To the extent that a gain that would otherwise be chargeable to capital gains tax because it relates to the part of the main residence which is let out as residential accommodation, the availability of lettings relief means that it is only chargeable to capital gains tax to the extent that it exceeds the lower of the amount of the gain sheltered by private residence relief; and £40,000.

    Example 1 - Tom owns a property which he lives in as his main residence. He lived in it for a year on his own, then to help pay the bills he let out 40% as residential accommodation.

    In June 2020 he sells the property realising a gain of £189,000. He had owned the property for five years and three months (63 months).

    The final nine months of ownership are covered by the final period exemption – this equates to £27,000.

    For the remaining 54 months, private residence relief is available for the first 12 months and 40% of the remaining 48 months – a total of 31.2 months (12 + (40% x 48)). This is worth £93,600. (31.2/63 x £189,000).

    Private residence relief in total is worth £120,600 (£27,000 + £93,600).

    The gain attributable to the letting is £68,400 (£189,000 - £120,600). This is taxable to the extent that is exceeds £40,000 (being the lower of £40,000 and £120,600).

    Thus the letting relief is worth £40,000 and the chargeable gain is £28,400.

    Example 2 - Lucy buys a flat for £300,000 which she lives in for one year as her main residence. She then buys a new home which she lives in as her main residence and lets the flat out for three years, before selling it and realising a gain of £96,000.

    If she sells it before 6 April 2020, she will be entitled to private residence relief of £60,000 (30/48 x £96,000). The final 18 months are exempt as she lived in the flat for 12 months as her main residence. The gain attributable to letting is £36,000, all of which is sheltered by lettings relief (as less than both private residence relief and £40,000).

    If she sells the property after 6 April 2020, the final period exemption only covers the last nine months, reducing the private residence relief to £42,000 (21/48 x £96,000). The remainder of the gain of £54,000, which is attributable to the letting, is chargeable to capital gains tax as letting relief is no longer available as Lucy does not share her home with the tenant.

    Consider realising a gain on a let property which has also been a main residence prior to 6 April 2020 to take advantage of the letting relief available prior to that date.

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   Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd  -  61 Friar Gate   Derby   DE1 1DJ  -

adrian@adrianmooy.com

Adrian Mooy & Co - Accountants in Derby
61 Friar Gate Derby, Derbyshire DE1 1DJ
Phone: 01332 202660 Hours: Mon-Fri 9.00am - 5:00pm

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Adrian Mooy & Co is the trading name of Adrian Mooy & Co Ltd.  Registered in England No. 05770414.

Registered to carry out audit work in the UK by The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

Details of audit registration can be viewed at www.auditregister.org.uk under number 8011438.

Registered office: 61 Friar Gate, Derby, Derbyshire, DE1 1DJ

 

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